Posted by James McNeile, Partner
Why homeowners need a Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for property and financial affairs is a document that allows you to nominate another person to make decisions about your property and finances in the event that you are not able to do so yourself.
Recently, LPAs seem to be continually in the press. We all know we should have one, but so few of us do. Many people are worried about handing over financial control to another person, but for the majority of us it is just another one of those things we will do ‘some other time’.
However, the consequences of losing your mental capacity when you own your home or other property with another person, such as your spouse or another family member, can be fairly drastic if you don’t have an LPA for property and financial affairs in place. This is because when two or more people own a property together, a trust is formed, which means that dealing with real estate is different to dealing with other types of assets.
If you are no longer able to make decisions to buy or sell your property, and you haven’t given somebody else authority to do this for you, it is very likely that Court of Protection will need to authorise the person you own your home with to take action to sell the house on your behalf. They will not automatically have the authority to do this or sell the house. This will leave your partner or children, or whoever else you own your property with, in a very difficult situation that can easily cause delay of 4-6 months, which may mean any proposed sale is lost.
Dealing with property properly is vitally important, and I always advise my clients to make an LPA for property and financial affairs if they own any. I also work closely with our conveyancing teams so that we can try and spot any problems before they occur. It is by far preferable to have an LPA in place and not need it, rather than need it and not have one. Make sure you protect yourself and your family by taking proper legal advice and planning for the future and all its eventualities.
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